By Amarachi Amachukwu
For former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his prison experience is incomplete without being documented as a stage play.
Based on the book, The Story of Baba Ali written by the ex-President, the play entitled Gula, is the captivating true-life account of his encounter with one of the most dreaded criminals in Northern Nigeria while in prison. It aims to recapture and draw out vital lessons from Obasanjo’ experience while in incarceration.
The premiere of Gula will hold on Saturday September 30, 2017 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos while the stage play proper comes up twice daily on October 1, 7 and 8 at the same venue.
Speaking at a press conference held recently to announce Gula on Stage, Obasanjo noted that the play is replete with important lessons for families, policy makers, institutions and governments. While in Yola prison, Obasanjo had selected a few inmates for interview in order to know what had brought them to jail. He thereafter made efforts to influence and reverse their accelerated downward spiral to self-destruction.
While recalling his encounter with one of the inmates, ‘Baba Ali’, a leader of a ruthless criminal gang in Northern Nigeria and part of Cameroun, the former president said Baba Ali was the son of a missionary who became a daredevil armed robber while having both the police and judiciary in his pocket. However, through encouragement and preaching, Obasanjo successfully changed him to a better person.
“There are so many lessons drawn from Gula. But for me, what lessons can we learn individually, collectively and as a country? It does not matter how bad a man may be, you can change or improve him. There is an opportunity of a second chance for such person,” Obasanjo said, urging everyone to see the play.
Gula’s executive producer, Tunde Oduwole described the play as a story of courage, hope, taking responsibility and of second chances. He said: “While in incarceration, Obasanjo’s life was hanging in the balance but rather than allow fear, depression, self-pity or loneliness to engulf him, Obasanjo in a rare display of humanity took a personal responsibility to understand why the prison was full of young people.
Present at the press conference were ace actors, Paul Adams and Tunji Sotimirin, who plays the character of Obasanjo in Gula, and other guests from Nollywood. Kenneth Uphopho directed the stage play.